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tv   U.S. House of Representatives Maintaining Sanctions Against Three Russian...  CSPAN  January 17, 2019 7:06pm-7:42pm EST

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freshman class. new congress, new leaders. watch it on c-span. announcer: the house today debated in another bill to end the government shutdown. -- wouldwas reopened reopen all shuttered agencies with no official money for boardwalk. there was a dispute as to the vote. the house will revote next week. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell has said he will not bring any bill to the senate floor that the president finds unacceptable. sed, the measure is unlikely to be considered by the full senate. also today the house would to maintain sentience against three russian companies in which the trump administration eased last year. the senate failed to pass a similar measure yesterday. here is what the house look like. mr. engel: thank you, i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days in which to relt rhett their remarks and include
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extraneous material on h.j.res. 30, disapproving the president's proposal on certain sanctions on the russian federation under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. engel: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. engel: thank you, mr. speaker. it's regrettable we're in this situation. it's the result of the trump administration again trying to make an end run around corning on an issue as important as russian sanctions. on december 19 of last year, the treasury department notified congress of its intention to relax sanctions against three paska,tions tied to oleg a sosesoshese of vladimir putin. the trump administration may have a perfectly legitimate reason for easing those sanctions but the reason we're on the floor today is that we don't know. under this elaw we have very little time left to get the answers we need. the sangs we're dealing with
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today were imposed under the counterering america's adversaries through sanctions act. the bill we passed a year and a half ago to, among other things, slap sanctions on vladimir putin's cronies. the law is written so congress would be able to step in if we thought any administration could be making a mistake in waiving or easing sangs. the republican majority at the time wrote strict and complex provisions for exercising that oversight. allowing only 30 days to pass a measure that could be -- that could reverse such a decision. again, the trump administration announced its plans to ease these sanctions on december 19, 30 days ago. in the middle of the holidays just before the president shut the government down. at the end of the last congress and before committees in this congress have had a chance to organize and look into this very serious issue. this timing leads me to believe
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that the administration was trying to jam this decision through so congress would not be able to act. we ask thee the administration to explain this decision, their answers were, frankly, inadequate. we asked the administration to pump the brakes on easing these sanctions so we could review the decision further. they simply wouldn't. so with that 30-day window closing, we're now forced to bring this measure to the floor to try to block the decision. it's too bad, really, i'd rather the administration respected congress enough to allow us the time to address our concerns and again the rules for this were put into effect by the republican majority in the last congress and they're good rules. i'd rather they hadn't dropped this announcement when they did, that's the white house so that our committees could hold hearings and do our work the way we want to. but with the threat that russia poses to the united states, to our friends and allies, to democracy around the world, congress cannot just look the other way when the
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administration rushes a decision like this. there are too many open this ns about whether oligarch will control the companies this sanction addresses. we need to move this disapproval before the clock runs out. i ask members on both sides of the aisle to support it today. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from texas is recognize, mr. mccaul. mr. mccaul: thank you, mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. mccaul: i rise in support of this resolution. i've long maintained that provocations by vladimir putin and his cronies require a decisive and forceful response by the united states. as former chairman of the homeland security committee i love the effort to strengthen our cyber defenses so russia cannot attack our political institutions and undermine our democracy. i've seen the classified reports and i know the threats.
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i take a back seat to no one in con fronting russia's malicious activities. the whole world has seen russia's aggression in ukraine and it's important for -- and its support for assad's brew tlity in sere syria. putin's russia is an adversary and must be treated as one. an effective foreign policy needs to use all economic and diplomatic tools to confront belligerent behavior by a foreign power. those who threaten america and our allies need to understand they'll pay a heavy price so long as those threats persist. as someone who believes in partisanson -- that partisanship should stop at the water's edge as the chairman often says as our foreign -- at our foreign affairs briefings, i don't believe that this issue should divide our two parties. n fact, it should unite us. had also means congress must
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plan on -- we must impose sanction when is they are warranted and allow them to be lifted when they have accomplished their goals. i think many members find treasury's case for delisting these particular russian companies to be arguably -- to have an argument not very compelling. for example, some still have questions about whether moving some of the owe ig arc shares to a family sharet and to a sanctioned russia bank will sufficiently sever the control and enrichment he currently enjoys, and whether he can adequately monitor that with transparency. even though we may have a good faith disagreement about the wisdom of this particular delisting at this point in time, i do want to commend the treasury department's office of foreign assets control. they implement many of the sanctions congress enacts, and there are good reasons for
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their bipartisan reputation for integrity and professionalism. but because we can cannot be sure that we have removed the heavy hand of this russian oligarch, i cannot support the delisting of these sanctioned entities at this point in time. therefore i support this resolution and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: thank you. i now yield two minutes to the gentleman from virginia, mr. connolly, who is a valued member of the a fairs committee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman virginia tech. mr. connolly: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank my good friend, the distinguished chairman of the house foreign affairs committee. i listened to my friend from texas who i admire. he's defending the indefensible. partisan? i rise strongly m support of the h.r. res. po today disapproving the president's
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pro'sal to lift sanctions on three companies affiliated with a russian beganster oligarch. the congress passed an act in august of 2017 to hold putin and his cronies accountable for russian interference in our election. russian invasions of sovereign territories of other nations. and other maligned behavior. under that authority the treasury department office of foreign assets control sanctions a closed putin ally and several of his companies, including united company rusal and others. in doing so, the treasury department stated the trump treasury department stated, deripaska has said he does not separate himself from the russian state. he has been investigated for money laundering, and has been
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accused of threatening the lives of business rivals. illegally wiretapping a government official. extortion. organized crime, and racketeering. this is the man you want to lift sanctions on? in addition, we recently learned that deripaska -- i will not. let me finish. in addition we have recently learned -- i thank the speaker. in addition we have recently learned that deripaska worked closely with paul manafort, including a lobbying project that manafort said would greatly support the putin government. he also offered to give him private briefings about the trump presidential campaign. does this sound like someone deserving of exemption from u.s. sanctions? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. connolly: 30 seconds more. mr. engel: yield 30 second. the speaker pro tempore: 30 additional seconds.
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mr. connolly: apparently it does for the trump administration which has agreed to lift sanctions on three of the companies in exchange for deripaska dropping his ownership stake never mind that the new chairman of the board, has himself defended the russian occupation, illegal occupation, condemned by the world, of crimea, part of sovereign ukraine. that's why congress required a congressional notification before sanctions could be lifted. to prevent this president from allowing his inexplicable breaux mans with -- bromance with putin to superside security interests. now is not the time to ease pressure on putin. i urge my colleagues to support h.j.res. 30. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman reserve? mr. engel: yes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from texas. mr. mccaul: i continue to reserve my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman continues to reserve. the gentleman from new york.
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mr. engel: i now yield two minutes to the chairman of the ways and means committee and my classmate in congress, the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. neal. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from massachusetts virginia tech. mr. neal: i thank the chairman. 1988 was a good year. mr. speaker, today we vote on h.j. resolution 30 to disapprove the president's proposal to terminate sanctions on russian companies, including rusolt. my colleagues and i have serious concerns about many of the questions that to this day remain unanswered from the trump administration. russian oligarch derispask is sanctioned individual known as a bad actor with close ties to the putin administration. the agreement reached between the department of treasury and these entities seems to ahim to maintain considerable control and influence over russian holding companies. a week ago i asked the treasury department to delay the lifting of these ngs -- sanctions to allow congress to conduct meaningful oversight.
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my staff informs me that the treasury department has confirmed receipt of my letter but to this moment we have not received any word from treasury on their intentions. given an expiration date of tomorrow, unlikely that we will. as members of this congress, our duty to the american people is to exercise the oversight that ensures that the administration's actions are, indeed, legitimate. we have a duty to ensure that this administration takes a firm standard on -- stand on bad behavior by the russian government. getting to some of the more important elements of this consideration could be taken care of with a few months of delay while we exercise our constitutional responsibilities. the russian government has time and again prevented us from doing what i just described. we intend hear to proceed even in the aftermath of this
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decision today and what the senate did yesterday to consider -- take a look at this act that we believe today violates the intention of our congressional responsibilities. the malicious cyber interference that is attempted to subvert western democracies, including ours, needs to be fully examined with that i urge my colleagues to vote for this resolution. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from texas. mr. mccaul: continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman continues to reserve. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: thank you. i i now yield for two minutes to the gentleman from california, the chairman of the important committee, mr. schiff. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for two minutes. mr. schiff: i thank the gentleman for yielding. i rise in support of the resolution which disapproves the removal of sanctions against three companies owned by the russian oligarch and putin crony deripaska.
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his complicity in putin's efforts to undermine our democracy and those of our allies is well-known and this is without the benefit of what the special counsel has investigated and thus far uncovered. simply put, the treasury department has not provided congress with convincing evidence that the deal reached with mr. deripaska ends his control over the companies. and the treasury department has not provided congress with convincing evidence that he will not benefit financially from the divestiture of these businesses. these sanctions were imposed last year on mr. deripaska and these companies over his maligned efforts, the kremlin's maligned efforts to interfere in our democracy, as well as the efforts to invade russia's neighbor anti-continuing destabilization of ukraine. and the simple reality is
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having imposed these sanctions as a deterrent, nothing has changed in the kremlin's behavior towards the relaxation of these sanctions. sanctions are imposed for a reason. the reason these were imposed was because of the malevolent actions of mr. deripaska and the kremlin. they are intended to influence the kremlin's behavior. and what has changed merits now the relaxation of these sanctions? and the answer is nothing. the russian actions in the last election continueed through the manipulation of social media to med until our democratic affairs -- meddle in our democratic affairs. violence along the line of contact between russia and ukraine continues. and within ukraine continues. nothing has changed in the kremlin behavior. nothing has changed to warrant treasury lifting these sanctions.
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so i join my colleagues on a a bipartisan -- may i have 30 aa digsal seconds? mr. engel: 30 second. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman allowed 30 seconds. mr. schiff: i join my colleagues on a bipartisan basis and thank my colleague from texas for his support to disapprove of this he relaxation of sanctions on russia and mr. deripaska and urge the rest of the congress to join us. thank you. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: i reserve. the gentleman from texas. mr. mccaul: continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: i yield two minutes to the chairwoman of the financial services committee, the gentlewoman from california, miss waters. -- ms. waters. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. ms. waters: thank you very much. mr. speaker and members, you have heard all of the facts about what is happening in the treasury department. i do not understand for the life of me why there is any
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elected official who would support the delisting these companies and deripaska. we're dealing with the enemy. we're in an investigation. deripaska is a criminal. he's closely aligned with putin. we know everything about him. and we know and he would benefit from this delisting. we would retain 45% of the shares or the ownership in these companies. of course he will use that to basically pay off the debts to the bank that he owes. i tonight know why we have republicans who don't understand this. where are they? why are they not down here defending what they are going to do with their vote? why are they not down here explaining why somehow they are not putting this democracy first? this is not the first sanction that they are going to try and
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delist. they are coming with another in a few days and it has to do with jamaica, and i know all about that. they are going to keep coming. we should be implementing sanctions. this is about the i vation and the attack on crimea. this is about -- invasion and the attack on crimea. this is about all the other atrocities that have occurred and been implemented by putin and oligarches of russia. we need to stand up and we need to say that, yes, we're going to have sanctions. they are going to be implemented. we're going to make sure that we don't align ourselves with the people who are undermining this democracy. they have hacked into our d.n.c. they have hacked into our state's electoral systems. here we have people who are willing to say that's ok, that's all right, let them continue to do what they do. the republicans who did not vote on the senate side need to be called out.
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this is serious business. and i want the republicans to face it. don't hide. come on down here and defend it. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: mr. speaker, may i inquire how much time we have left? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has eight minutes remaining. and the gentleman from texas has 17 minutes remaining. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. gentleman from texas. mr. mccaul: mr. speaker, i just want to be clear as a republican leader of the foreign affairs committee, that i support this resolution. i'm not sure if my opening statement was improperly heard by the other side of the aisle. but i join my colleagues on the other side in support of this resolution in a bipartisan manner. as it should be against our enemy, russia, putin, and the oligarches. with that i reserve the balance
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of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: yes. i now yield three minutes to the gentleman from texas, mr. doggett. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas, mr. doggett, is recognized for -- mr. doggett: i say to my colleague and neighbor, mr. mccaul, i hope that means every republican, none of whom are on the floor here with him to explain their position on this, will join us on this important vote. because this sanctions law against russians was enacted over petroleump's objection and the purpose was -- over president trump's objections and it was to defer russian aggression against us and our allies, not to yield the right of way. now the administration is lifting sanctions on a thug who is linked at the hip to putin and only engages in more wrongdoing. let's not aid this one-way gift to putin. a gift that was deliberately slipped under the christmas tree at the kremlin on the eve of congressional departure so we could have as little oversight as possible.
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secretary mnuchin suggested he was opened to meaningful additional time to review this, but he's gone radio silent. he calculated that there were enough house enablers to rubber stamp this sordid deal. we sought a classified intelligence assessment of whether sanctionsing beauty puddy derip a aska would continue to control the world's largest company after these sanctions were lifted. leaders on both the house and senate intelligence committee have expressed their national security concerns about this deal. if only he were eager to reopen american government and businesses as he is to open this sanctioned russian company. trump provides sanction relief for a sham deal whereby this one thug transfers his shares
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to his personal foundation, a trump foundation-type group, his ex-wife, and sanctioned russian bank. treasury refuses to identify to us any of these new so-called independent directors. . what we do know is the chair of one of these companies is someone who is under investigation by the british parliament and who cannot see classified information and the chair of another one is a cheerleader for the russian invasion and annexation of the crimea and their war with ukraine. all of this misconduct happening against the backdrop of a president who increasingly has become a loud mega phone for russian propaganda, turning over syria to putin, suggesting that our withdrawal should occur from nato. praising the soviet invasion of afghanistan with a distorted
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history. each day of chaos is another day when vladimir putin's investment in the election of donald trump pays him bigger dividends in driving to undermine western democracy and our way of life. message of strong message oversight -- an additional 15 seconds? mr. engel: the -- yield the gentleman 15 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has 15 seconds. mr. doggett: let's send a strong message not just to the white house but the crimly by rejecking this favoritism toward putin. let's vote today as member oof this e-- members of the united states congress not the russian duma. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas. mr. mccaul: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: mr. engel. mr. engel: it's my pleasure to yield three minutes to the gentleman from connecticut, mr.
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hines. -- mr. himes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. himes: i very much appreciate the advocacy of chairwoman waters but this is fundamentally not a partisan issue and i appreciate the ranking member make the point. this is a reputational risk issue. and i want everyone in the chamber to understand that this is about the reputation of the united states, about the congress, about the treasury and each individual member who votes today. this is a complicated deal. i've spent hours understanding this deal. but there's a big question that every member ought to ask themselves. is this the moment to relax sanctions on a russian company? on a russian oligarch? is this the moment to sign off on a deal that allows an oligarch to hand his shares to a russian bank which is also sanctioned and controlled by the russian government? at the end of the deal, if this deal goes through, mr. deripaska
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will continue to own and vote 35% of the chairs of this company. you can control a company with 35% of the shares. an additional 25% of the shares will be owned and controlled by affiliates of deripaska. treasury says that doesn't matter because there will be somebody independent voting the shares. i've asked three times now but treasury hasn't told me who those people are. so what's the rush? there's no problem in the aluminum markets today. the price of aluminum is lower today than it was before the company was listed. this is reputational. the architect of this deal, lord barker of battle, is a british peer who has been denied access to classified information in the parliament who is under investigation by the parliament because of possible ties to the russians. so i will close by making this point. there is no rush. i've become an expert on this
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deal. members who vote against this resolution, if deripaska turns out to be worse than we think he is, if lord battle turns out worse than we think he is, if the russians and deripaska continue to control this company out after this vote you too will become an expert on this deal and in the in a good way. with that, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yield back. mr. engel. mr. engel: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the members should be reminded that the time remaining on each side is -- the gentleman from new rk has 2 1/4 minutes remaining. mr. mccaul, you have 16 1/2 minutes remaining. the gentleman from texas. mr. mccaul: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman continues to reserve. mr. engel: i now yield one minute to our majority leader the author of this resolution, the gentleman from maryland, mr. hoyer. the speaker pro tempore: the majority leader is recognized.
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mr. hoyer: i thank the chairman for yielding. i thank the ranking member for his leadership as well. i join mr. himes in saying this is not a partisan issue. this is an issue of america. whether or not we are going to hold accountable those who would threaten and undermine the interests of the united states. i thank mr. mccaul for his principled leadership on this issue. i thank chairman engel for his continuing focus on making america secure. i'm offering this resolution today because it is deeply concerning that the treasury department would terminate sanctions from companies owned by oleg deripaska. mr. deripaska is a russian oligarch, meaning he's very, very wealthy.
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he's an association, a very close association of president vladimir putin. the business he is controls were sanctioned under the russian sanctions legislation that congress enacted through bipartisan action in 2017. as i have sponsored numerous bills with mr. mccarthy when he was the majority leader. to make sure that the congress was on record and had policies which would staunch the attacks on our country, on our security, by the russians. i was deeply disappointed that the republican senate rejected a similar resolution yesterday. when i say rejected it, the majority of the members of the senate, 57 to be exact, support it. -- supported this resolution. talked to secretary me knew
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chitch -- mnuchin yesterday and the day before. i asked secretary mnuchin given the concerns about this legislation, about the withdrawing of sanctions, that they give us until february 28 to have hearings, to reflect upon, to have further discussions with the administration to make a determination whether we thought this action was in the best interests of our country. unfortunately, when the senate failed to get the 60 votes they needed to bring cloture so they could get the final consideration of the bill, the treasury department decided to go forward. it is crucial that the congress, however, make clear that the allies of vladimir putin, no matter how wealthy or how poerful they are, face appropriate consequences for their actions against america's security and democratic institutions. that's what this is about.
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as mr. himes said, not a partisan vote. as a matter of fact, in my view, if barack obama were president of the united states today, this resolution would receive unanimous support from my republican colleagues. and overwhelming if not unanimous support from my democratic colleagues. i understand the treasury department's goal in this instance. it is trying to remove mr. deripaska from control of these companies. that is a good objective. also also -- i am sensitive to the concerns of our sense n partners who are ty to the production of alum numb by the russian company that produces the overwhelming share of aluminum internationally. however, i to not have confidence that this specific
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teal accomplishes that objective. i believe many members of this house on both sides of the aisle share this lack of confidence. there are way too many remaining questions for congress not to act on this resolution. for example, i'm not convinced that mr. deripaska would fully relinquish his concern of the company under this deal. as a matter of fact i think it's doubtful he would do. so or that the treasury department use its full leverage in this negotiation. i am also concerned, mr. speaker, that mr. deripaska would receive massive financial benefit from this deal. this is supposed to be a sanction. massive financial benefit. nearly unprecedented for a sanctioned entity. mr. speaker, i hope our action today will force the treasury department to engage more thoroughly with congress on explaining its actions on this deal and to seek a better one. i think their intent was an
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honest intent. doubtful that they achieved it. i therefore urged my colleague to join me and hopefully in a bipartisan way supporting this resolution. i call on the senate to reconsider its position and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the majority -- the majority leader yields back. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. engel: may i inquire of the gentleman from texas if he's prepared to close? mr. mccaul: i have no other speakers and yes i'm prepared to close. mr. engel: then i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves, the gentleman from texas is now recognized. mr. mccaul: thank you, mr. speaker. i was in the october, 2016, classified briefings on the interference by the russians in our federal elections. in our presidential elections. i can democratted it at that time, i continue to condemn it. i support sanctioned -- i supported sanctions then, i
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support those sanctions today. for that reason, mr. speaker, until we've been fully satisfied by the treasury department, i support this resolution and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman if in -- the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: in closing, mr. speaker, let me first say to mr. mccaul that i'm very happy to hear those words come out of his mouth. we -- as you know, we've had a tradition of bipartisanship on the foreign affairs committee with chairman royce and myself. now with me as chairman and mr. mccaul. i want to thank the gentleman from texas for speaking out forcefully and saying the right thing. that's why congress overwhelmingly passed sanctions on russia in 2017 because members of both parties understand the threat that russia and putin pose from the illegal annexation of crimea to the war in eastern ukraine to
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the support of assad to the attack on our own democracy in 2016, russia is clearly a major adversary that needs to be dealt with strongly. so when we say the ad-- so when we see the administration and i would say this about any administration, democrat or republican, when the administration appears to go easy on one of putin's closest pals, we understandably have serious questions, we need to see the whole picture and right now we're not. congress cannot be left out of decisions this important. that's something i hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle understand and i hope we can send the administration a strong, bipartisan message to that effect. this resolution represents congress doing our job, exerting oversight, using checks and balances provided in the constitution, i'm pleased to support it and i yield b announcer: the house went on to pass that bill that maintains a sanctions against three russian companies by a vote of 362-53.
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after the trump administration eased those sanctions last year. the senate failed to pass a similar measure yesterday. the house is done with work for the week but earlier today the chamber debated a bill that would have reopened all shuttered agencies through february 28 with no additional money for a border wall. there was a dispute as to the vote, so the house will revote on the measure next week. follow the house live on c-span when members return for legislative work on tuesday. griller today house speaker nancy pelosi held her weekly briefing with reporters at the capital. she spoke about the government shutdown and the impact it has on some of her constituents. she called on president trump to reopen the government. this is 20 minutes. speaker pelosi: the vote's on the floor. that's the tyranny of the bell, as i call it.

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